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Hadlow College lambing weekend cancelled over coronavirus fears

A popular event to celebrate the start of spring has been cancelled over coronavirus fears.

Hadlow College welcomed 10,000 visitors to last year's lambing weekend but the spread of COVID-19 has led organisers to axe the upcoming event in Tonbridge.

The event is held at Hadlow College in Tonbridge
The event is held at Hadlow College in Tonbridge

It was due to take place on Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15.

The Tonbridge Road college, which offers a range of farming and agriculture courses to students aged 14 and above, has been running the public lambing weekend for more than 20 years.

Activities include tractor rides, birds of prey display, food stalls and of course - meeting the new born lambs.

But, in light of growing public concern that the virus will spread across the UK, the college has decided it is best to cancel.

A statement released by the college says: "Due to the developing situation across the country regarding the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, and having considered guidance relating to the hosting of large public gatherings, Hadlow College has reluctantly taken the decision to cancel its forthcoming lambing weekend.

The lambing weekend usually welcomes around 10,000 visitors
The lambing weekend usually welcomes around 10,000 visitors

"Although the college has not currently experienced any cases of the virus, this action is being taken as a precautionary measure in light of the current situation, to protect everyone involved and to give as much advanced warning as possible to the many supporters of the event.

Interim principal Graham Morley said: "The lambing weekend is one of the college’s largest events and a firm fixture in our calendar.

"It regularly attracts in excess of 10,000 visitors from the local community and wider surrounding area.

"Therefore, this has not been a decision we have taken lightly and we do apologise to anyone that is inconvenienced by this decision.

"However, given the recent developments surrounding Covid-19, it is the most sensible course of action to ensure we avoid all potential risks to the public, our students and staff."

Anyone who pre-bought tickets will get a full refund.

This comes after the first case of the deadly illness in the county was confirmed earlier this week.

A business at Maidstone Studios confirmed one of its staff members had tested positive for the condition.

The employee, who had recently returned from Italy, was in the building last week.

Some companies have chosen to stay away from the Maidstone Studios until deep cleaning of offices and communal areas is carried out.

Despite the cancellation of the lambing weekend, the college will remain open as usual.

Staff and pupils are being issued with Public Health England advice on how to best reduce chance of infection.

This is through posters and emails, as well as a letter home to parents highlighting the issue and assuring families precautions are being taken, including regular hand washing.

Another popular lambing weekend, this time at the High Weald Academy in Cranbrook, is still due to go ahead on Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22.

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